Is this the one that got away?
August 3, 2010 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I think I screwed up a phone interview. How can I make a rebound (if possible?)

Had phone interview with company I'd love to work for that may have some position openings in the fall. Two problems:

1. Person who was to call me got the time wrong and called later than anticipated (I even tried calling them several times in case something was wrong, but couldn't get through.)

2. At this point I was a tad frazzled and my energy was at a low point. Also bear in mind that I'm in the midst of coping with the recent death of a loved one.

I was congenial over the phone and tried to be articulate while asking and answering questions, but a few "uh"s and "like"s did escape me, and I'm worried that this made me come across as a ditz. They said that if I have any other questions I am free to email them. And they did apologize for calling late and admitted that it was a bad first impression on their part; I wasn't offended and realize it was a simple error.

I definitely want to ask a few more questions, but I'm concerned that I'm already dead in the water with this one. I'm trying not to come across as desperate (hopefully I haven't - to them at least), but I really do want to work for this company. Is there any sort of recourse I can take?
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I definitely want to ask a few more questions, but I'm concerned that I'm already dead in the water with this one.

You never know until you try.

Call up your contact at the company, and ask your questions. But don't tell this person all the ancillary detail about you having been frazzled on the first phone call, the death of your loved one, your anxiety about having screwed up the first interview, etc.

If they are interested in you, they will be happy to hear from you. If they're not interested either they will not call you back if you leave a voicemail or they will try to get you off the phone pretty quickly.

But you won't know by posting questions here.
posted by dfriedman at 4:24 PM on August 3, 2010

Email with your questions, and a thank you for the chance to meet the interviewer via the interview. Meanwhile move on and don't worry about it. Very few of us sound amazingly polished on the telephone.
posted by bearwife at 4:26 PM on August 3, 2010 [6 favorites]

I bet you did much better than you think that you did. I had a phone interview at (for me) an ungodly hour in the morning. While I thought that I mostly did OK, I also knew that I rambled a bit more than I should have and threw in a few too many "uhs" and what not. I ended up getting offered the job.

I would agree with others who say don't draw attention to the fact that you were frazzled on the phone. Email to thank the interviewers for their time in discussing the position with you, state that you enjoyed speaking with them, and then add your questions. You have absolutely nothing to lose, and a lot to potentially gain.
posted by kaybdc at 5:28 PM on August 3, 2010

Unless they're interviewing you to be a PR rep or press secretary, they're not going to ding you for "uhs" nearly as much as you think they might, especially if the content of your answers was otherwise alright.

Ask the questions you have via email and reiterate your excitement towards the company and position, and that you believe you can make a positive contribution to their organization and let it ride.
posted by disillusioned at 6:09 PM on August 3, 2010

Almost everyone feels this way after an interview.

Send a short and very real thank you note for their time, in which you express your interest non-desperately.

And when I say "send" and "thank you note," I don't mean by email either.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 8:30 PM on August 3, 2010

If saying "uh" during an interview made one "dead in the water," I would've never had a job. Ever.
posted by sfkiddo at 10:05 PM on August 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

Phone interviews are extremely hard. I've conducted a number of them and then look at the notes (I type fast enough that whole sections are verbatim), and entire paragraphs are practically nonsense. Even the very strong candidates have a few answers that are completely off the mark, and still communicate in awkward ways like starting sentences, then interrupting themselves. Maybe I'm overstating here, because there are a few people who are really good at the form, but those weren't necessarily the people we hired because "phone polish" isn't top priority (and if you knew more about what these jobs were, you'd think that maybe it ought to be, actually). The people who did well on the phone interviews got across that they understood what we were looking for, they had those skills, that they were friendly and interested, and little else. If you made a few coherent points about why your skills match their needs, particularly if you really sold those points, while also being friendly, you did well. The people on the other end probably have a checklist (knows Excel, understands [our topic], has a good work history, can write a solid memo, majored in A B or C, has supervised staff before). A few "uh"s are irrelevant. I'd worry if you left entire questions unanswered to the extent that they're not checking that check box when it deserves to be checked. If so, offer to provide more information on your background in X. But otherwise, unless the job is telesales or radio announcements, a little verbal awkwardness is unlikely to make the difference in your moving on (or not) to the next round.
posted by salvia at 11:42 PM on August 3, 2010

For my current job, I was absolutely convinced I'd totally blown the phone interview. But I got an in-person interview and the job.

So don't give up hope. Agreed, though, that a polite follow-up thanks/question email is a good idea.
posted by leahwrenn at 1:36 AM on August 4, 2010

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